Poet Alberto Ríos: an Arizonan with border roots
On #NationalPoetryDay, get to know ASU Regents’ Professor Alberto Ríos, Arizona’s official poet laureate.
Ríos was named inaugural poet laureate for the state of Arizona in 2013, and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2014.
He is the author of 10 books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.
His books of poems include, most recently, “The Dangerous Shirt,” preceded by “The Theater of Night,” winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award.
He was recently commissioned to write the official entry for the State of Arizona for the “Imagine Our Parks with Poem”, a grant initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts, created in partnership with the National Park Service. His poem, “Faithful Forest,” lauds the state’s quieter natural wonder — Petrified Forest National Park.
Ríos was the natural choice for an Arizona poet. He has described much of his work as written “for public purpose,” since he is often called on to create poems commemorating occasions and events. He has written poems for the visit of Mexico’s President Vicente Fox to Arizona in 2003, for the inaugurations of Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano in 2003 and 2007, for a permanent installation on the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales, and, most recently, upon the death of former Arizona Gov. Raul Castro in 2015.
His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border — “Capirotada” — won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was designated as the One Book Arizona choice for 2009.
His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.
He has taught at ASU for more than 30 years and also holds the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English.